Road Trip Dad - Lake Placid Chronicles
Why Is Everyone Getting Older?
Yesterday was another great day at the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament. Sure, it was cooler than spectators and staff would have liked, but I didn’t hear any players complain. Yes, the sun was in and out all day long, but when that sun came out it was gorgeous. It didn’t rain at all, and for anyone who stayed in the parking lot till about 8 o’clock when I left, there was an absolutely spectacular evening sky, something we’ve grown accustomed to in Lake Placid.
This year we have five teams in the Past Masters (age 60+), eight in the Ultra Grand Masters (55+), 16 in the Super Grand Masters (50+), four in the Grand Masters 1 (45+), 16 in the Grand Masters 2 division (also 45+), and 40 teams in three divisions of the Masters age group (35+).
There were fewer games yesterday than any day so far; we only used six fields and competition took place in “just” eight different divisions. Yesterday I described the older players who moved into the North Elba site; today I came to the realization that they were mostly my own age, and I took painful note of so many of my former Oswego State players and teammates who are now playing in the oldest age groups at Lake Placid.
One of the best parts of being at Lake Placid is seeing so many guys I used to coach at Oswego, former Laker laxmen who are still playing. In past years I’ve counted as many as 15 or 20 Laker alums in town for one part of the week or another. But this year, I was a little disconcerted about the number of them playing not at the end of the week, when the men’s Open division takes place, but during the middle of the week, when the oldest age groups compete.
There was Paul Mizer ’85, Oswego’s first USILA All-American and 3x all-league defenseman, playing with the Sailin’ Shoe in the Super Grand Masters. There was Vinny Lang ‘88, former coach at Mercyhurst and Trine, playing with the TriCity Grand Masters 2 squad. I saw Chad Longway ‘97 as he prepared to play with the TROG in Masters 3, and Pat “Satch” Schafer ‘89 played with a Last Call team in the Super Grand Masters. Patrick Williams ’96 (and his brother Eric) were there, too. These weren’t teammates of mine (for the most part) – these were guys I coached!
Then there were the Fulton guys and former UOLL teammates who played in the Fulton Summer Rec in the ‘80s when I reffed there with Terry MacNabb… Drew and Blair White, Bill LeClair, the Kaproski brothers (Eric and Aaron), Chris Delano, Jeff Grinnals, and others. They were there, too, playing in the old men’s part of the week’s schedule. I
As I watched grandfather after grandfather take the field, I came to the realization that, if I wanted to play in this year’s Summit, I would be eligible to play in every one of the men’s age groups except one – the Past Masters (60+) division. All the bald heads, all the gray hair, all the old gear, and all the taped, iced, and/or wrapped body parts – and the harsh truth is that I am old enough to be a teammate of almost every one of them. I felt very, very old…
Today the young guys and girls will show up and start the final age groups of the week. They’ll play today through Sunday, and the sidewalks and restaurants in this tiny Adirondack village will be overflowing with Lax Bros and Sisters, Lax Moms and Lax Dads, and plenty of younger brothers and sisters. Unlike yesterday, we’ll be using 12 fields most of the day, with games beginning at 8:30 AM and running through the ninth game of the day at 6:30 PM. There’s no chance I’m going to count them for an accurate number, but I’m guessing we’ll conduct somewhere between 90-95 games today alone!
Guys and girls – young and old – maybe parents of sons and daughters who are playing in this weekend’s games, maybe wives with small, developing All-Americans – please, please, please drink responsibly, and more importantly, drive carefully, too.
- Dan Witmer